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Miami Herald - June 3, 2008

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Work to begin on affordable housing project in Little Haiti

Biscayne Housing Group and Carlisle Development Group are partnering with YMCA of Greater Miami to build Village Carver, an affordable housing complex for families and the elderly.


BY LAURA MORALES

As the pace of gentrification slows because of the housing slump, the widespread need for affordable housing in Miami continues.

Within three months, developers say, construction could begin on a new project in Little Haiti that could eventually provide up to 309 affordable rental apartments for low- to moderate-income families and elderly folks.

Village Carver, to be built at 401 NW 71st St., will have three buildings linked by shared common areas and include about 391 parking spaces.

Biscayne Housing Group and Carlisle Development Group plans to build the complex on a 6.81-acre lot owned by YMCA of Greater Miami.

Michael Cox of Biscayne Housing said Monday that financing for the project will come from Florida Housing Finance Corp., tax credits and a county documentary stamp surtax, which taps 45 cents from every $100 made from the sale of commercial property in Miami-Dade.

The project will go before the Miami Zoning Board on Monday, because the developers need a special exception to build a high-density residential project in an area zoned for commercial use, said attorney N. Patrick Range. The city's planning department recommended approval of the project.

Construction will proceed in three stages and has a budget of nearly $23 million, said developer Oscar Sol of Carlisle. The first tower, to be built by summer 2009, will have nine stories, 112 units and 122 parking spots.

''Those will all be one-bedroom apartments for seniors,'' Sol said. ``We work a lot with the Carrie Meek Foundation and we're thinking they could help us bring in seniors to the project.''

Biscayne Housing and Carlisle also paired up with the YMCA for a similar complex dubbed Village Allapattah, located at 2370 NW 17th Ave. But, unlike that project, Village Carver won't include a YMCA center.

''When we studied the needs of the community, the most significant need was for affordable housing, so we worked with our partners to address that specific need,'' YMCA spokeswoman Charlotte Donn said in an e-mail Monday. ``It is our hope that many families in Little Haiti will find a nurturing home here in the near future.''

Each building at Village Carver will include a community center, library, computer lab, laundry room and gym. Phase I, specifically for seniors, will include a domino court park, with shaded outdoor areas and tables for playing board games.

Phases II and III, which include apartments for families, will feature playgrounds and recreation areas like volleyball courts.